[Ads-l] Put the kibosh on: Evidence it referred to a whip, #1

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Sat Jun 16 15:52:14 EDT 2018


Once more, outside of Penal Servitude there are several
pieces of evidence that the word kibosh referred
to a whip (e.g. the unambiguous quote in the 1892 book by
French-Sheldon), and since that definition makes perfect
sense in the poem Penal Servitude, why should it not be
accepted at face value there?

EVIDENCE #1:

Two lines from the WWI song Belgium Put The Kibosh On

The Kaiser (in the 2001 book by Max Arthur, When This

Bloody War Is Over, p. 13):

                   For Belgium put the kibosh on the Kaiser,

                   Europe took the stick and made him sore



The kibosh/kurbash was a stick-shaped whip. It was not a whip

with flails.



EVIDENCE #2:

 With evidence #1 in mind, note the comment in a similar vein

written by Thomas Ratcliffe in 1901 (N&Q, 9th  Series, vol. 7,

p. 277; I omit the quote marks):



         …It [kybosh] was also used in the sense of giving a

         hiding. I’ll give him what for! I’ll give him kybosh!



EVIDENCE #3:



Abhorrent, racist rant (Punch, March 15, 1879, p. 113),

which includes the following line:



          He’s off with the 17th Lancers to kibosh the festive Zulu.



The reference of  kibosh here to whipping is made distressingly

clear by the accompanying couplets; see Cohen/Goranson/Little

(2017: 72) for the relevant quotes. I repeat: there is no doubt that

the two words (to kibosh) refer to a beating.



EVIDENCE #4

The 1892 book by May French-Sheldon (title: Sultan

to Sultan) defines kibosh as a rhinoceros-hide stick.  I.e.,

it was a kurbash; kurbashes were made of rhinoceros or

hippopotamus hide.

Very important: The parenthetical comment defining

the kibosh as a rhinoceros-hide stick) in the quote below

appears in the original quote (on page 200):



     Witnessing the event, Hamidi’s kibosh (rhinoceros-hide stick)

     went whistling through the air as he impulsively plunged

     through the stream to chastise the frightened askari.



The kibosh here is clearly the whip usually termed the kurbash.



EVIDENCE #5:



1835 quote: ‘r[a]ise the kibosh against me’ True Sun (London

newspaper), May 15, p. 4/4:

     They say so [make accusations] to rise the kibosh against me

     and my wife.



In this quote and the next one, a German Jew falsely accuses

members of London’s Jewish community of threatening him and

his wife with violence. A kibosh is here being figuratively raised,

and in the next example from the same newspaper story the plaintiff

again mentions the kibosh, this time specifically in the context of being

struck. The kibosh in the latter example clearly seems to refer to a whip.

The iron bar used in clogmaking (also called a kibosh) would fit here

semantically; but the term kibosh in that sense is not attested until 1860,

in the north of England, while put the kibosh on is well attested already

in the 1830s in the south of England.



EVIDENCE #6:



>From the same  May 15,1835 True Sun article : The German Jew testifies

he was struck and specifies the kibosh as the instrument:



     ..and they gets other Jews to give me the kibosh upon me, and it’s

     all the same to me which of the whole set struck me.





EVIDENCE #7



This is the piece of evidence that has generated controversy in the recent

ads-l messages. It is the verse in the poem (ca. 1830) Penal Servitude

(supposedly written by a convict who has  returned from imprisonment

in Australia):



            There is one little dodge I am thinking

            That would put your profession all to smash

            It would put on the kibosh like winking,

            That is, if they was to introduce the lash.



 Doug Wilson sees the term kibosh here as having a general

meaning (stopper). Stephen Goranson, Matthew Little and I

have a different interpretation:  The poet knows his readers are

likely unaware of the meaning of kibosh in put on the kibosh and

therefore promptly clarifies: That is if they was to introduce the

lash.



The kurbash/kibosh was a fearsome instrument of punishment.

 Of course the kibosh here has the effect of being a stopper; but

it developed that meaning only because it was such a fearsome

instrument of punishment and deterrence.



In any case, the other pieces of evidence clarify that the kibosh

is a whip (the kurbash). They really do need to be taken into

 consideration when interpreting kibosh in Penal Servitude.



Gerald Cohen





________________________________
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at NB.NET>
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2018 7:12 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Put the kibosh on: Evidence it referred to a whip, #1

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Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
Subject:      Re: Put the kibosh on: Evidence it referred to a whip, #1
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On 6/15/2018 10:40 AM, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
> I am puzzled by the suggestion below that the writer of
> the poem Penal Servitude used the word lash
> merely to make up a quatrain, i.e., for its rhyme with
> the word smash. By that interpretation the word lash
> here is meaningless, but nowhere in the verses of
> Penal Servitude do we see the writer inserting a
> meaningless word.
--

I did not suggest anything about the word "lash" in the poem. Maybe
Gerald Cohen means the word "kibosh"?

Here is the stanza in question, as written:

There is one little dodge I am thinking,
That would put your profession all to smash.
It would put on the kibosh like winking,
That is if they was to introduce the lash.

Here is my interpretation or rewording:

There is one little trick, I think,
That would completely ruin your profession.
It would put the kibosh/stopper [on your profession] in an instant,
That is, if they were to introduce whipping.

I believe "kibosh" here has the same meaning as "kibosh" in (say) 2018:
"check" or "stop" (noun, NOT defined as a [type of] whip or other
concrete object).

--
> ....
>
> Also, outside of Penal Servitude there are several
> pieces of other evidence that the word kibosh referred
> to a whip (e.g. the unambiguous quote in the 1892 book by
> French-Sheldon), and since that definition makes perfect
> sense in the poem Penal Servitude, why should it not be
> accepted at face value there?
>
> ....
--

One "kibosh" (= "type of whip") is found in a single 1892 source (but
not definitely as an English word), another "kibosh" (the familiar word
used today) is found in hundreds of sources at least over 160+ years,
several other "kibosh" words (or senses) are occasionally found.
Furthermore, to my perception, "kibosh" = "stopper" fits pretty well
here while "kibosh" = "whip" seems unnatural.

The 1892 book uses "kibosh" repeatedly, apparently meaning the same as
"kurbash", when discussing/describing the flogging of subordinates in
East Africa. It is italicized, suggesting it is taken to be a foreign
word. This can be considered supportive of the "kibosh"<"kurbash"
etymology, but in my opinion EVEN IF a word "kibosh" meaning "kurbash"
or "whip" or so was available in English in 1830-1860 (say), it would
not have been the same "kibosh" as that in the poem, which I believe to
be the same "kibosh" used today. Again, although only the poet can have
known with 100% certainty what he intended, I do not believe it is at
all likely that "kibosh" in English meant anything like "whip" in the poem.

Again, I do NOT assert that there is NO evidence anywhere to support the
hypothesis "kibosh"<"kurbash". The 1892 book arguably shows such
evidence. But I myself don't see any such evidence at all in the poem
"Penal Servitude".

In the poem, "you" often seems to refer to Englishmen in general; in the
stanza in question it seems to refer to English criminals ("your
profession") ... I'm not sure of how to interpret this. The second and
third lines in the stanza have nearly the same meaning, as I see it.

-- Doug Wilson





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